New police chief opens door to Hood River

June 8, 2005

Hood River’s new police chief took his oath of office last Friday, flanked by four law enforcement officials from his previous place of employment.

Redmond City Police Detective Phil Paschke had tried in vain to convince Bruce Ludwig to stay in Central Oregon. But, when that failed, he and a trio of fellow officers decided to visit the Gorge and wish their former administrative captain well in his new role.

Ludwig said the show of support from the Redmond contingency was extremely appreciated after 15 years of service with them. He was just as grateful for the warm greeting that he received from numerous Hood River leaders and residents.

“The people here have made me feel very welcome and I am looking forward to serving this community,” he said.

Ludwig, 54, was the top choice from a field of 25 candidates for the chief job. He took over on June 1 from interim chief Matt Fine, who came out of retirement in Bend to temporarily oversee police operations after Kevin Lynch stepped aside in December.

Ludwig said Fine spent hours briefing him on basic operating procedures and introducing him to between 50-60 people within a three-day period.

Although he admits that it is still difficult matching all of the faces to the names — or even punching all of the right buttons on his office equipment — Ludwig plans to expand his learning curve even further.

His goal is to have an open door policy over the next few months and invite members of the community to stop by and discuss any issues of concern — or just say hello.

“I’m not planning on making any random changes to this department. I don’t believe in making change just for change. I expect people to provide me with good information, which I’ll evaluate before making my own independent decision,” said Ludwig. “What I’m hoping to do is spend the next three months making sure everything is going smoothly and identifying needs.”

His top priority as the lead officer is to ensure that city police are providing high quality customer service. Ludwig believes visiting with residents and area service organizations will provide him with good background knowledge about how the public perceives his department.

“We accept tax dollars and we have an obligation to to provide excellent customer service — and we’re going to do that,” he said.

Ludwig views “community policing” as a philosophy that is multifaceted. He said for community members to truly feel protected, the root problems of safety and security issues need to dealt with. For example, if police are continually called to the same residence for the infractions of the law, Ludwig said it is time to see if a new approach is warranted and available.

“You need to start peeling the layers of the problem away, like an onion, until you get to the core,” he said.

He believes that citizen confidence in the level of service that they are receiving is tied to established professional standards. Ludwig was instrumental in helping the Redmond department establish official policies and procedures that gained state approval. Not only does meeting the 139 standards of the Oregon Accreditation Alliance lower liability risks for the department, he said it holds officers to greater accountability.

In 2003 former Hood River chief Tony Dirks started the arduous process to establish a uniform set of operating rules but that project was shelved with his departure. Ludwig plans to dust off the guidelines for performance in all areas of service delivery and complete the process of getting them down in print.

But first he wants to hold a departmental meeting with all 18 staffers in the immediate future and then hold one-on-one discussions with each employee. Once he is completely aware of any “hot-button” issues within the agency, Ludwig plans to get them resolved so officers can put all of their energies into protection of the public.

“I want to hear how they think things are going, what they think is broken and what’s working right,” Ludwig said. “I want to empower everyone in this department to make good decisions and know that they will get backed.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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